Dinner Party – Deliciousness!

A favorite hobby of mine is curating recipes. I’m a self-taught cook (more Rachel Ray, than Wolfgang Puck). I find solace in ingredients, and joy in family gatherings around the table. When designing a menu for a recent dinner party, I headed directly to my Pinterest recipe boards and started perusing the deliciousness I have parked for such an occasion.

For dinner with friends, I was looking for a chicken recipe that would be unexpected, along with a creative pasta that would accompany the happy bird.

Get ready to lose your face, because this menu was beyond expectation…

Chicken with Tomato and Basil Cream Sauce
Pasta with Brown Butter and Pine Nuts
Sauteed Broccoli with Olive Oil FinishMixed Greens with Blue Cheese, Pear Shavings and Candied Walnuts
Crusty Bread with Garlic Butter

This menu was off the charts delicious when it was served, but the leftovers were even better because the flavors of the chicken really molded together overnight.

If you are looking for an easy dinner party menu for your next extravaganza, I hope these recipes will help you to be the hostess with the mostess!

Drop a comment below to tell me what you think of today’s recipes.

Day #11: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Learning the Trade!)

For my 11th experience, I reached out to my event colleague, Sharon Mintz, Owner of Organic Elements – an award winning and regularly published – floral and design studio, and asked if I could shadow her team for a few hours. She was very gracious to have me pop over to her new studio and let me get my hands dirty! I’ve also been in awe of floral design and after seeing what amazing floral art Sharon and her team regularly produce and design, it was easy to know who I would want to train under!

As an event planner, my involvement with a floral team is to talk about a design and place an order. I really had very little knowledge about ordering, flower production, design and execution. On the day I shadowed the Organic Elements team, I was able to help prep a few upcoming projects.

My first assignment was to clean a dozen vases. Like many parts of the event industry, these are the tasks that are not overly fun but very necessary. The behind the scenes prep is what most people forget is necessary. Instead, they walk into a ballroom all set-up for the event and have little knowledge on what it takes to get it from a blank slate to a visual cacophony. It was very evident that the Organic Elements team is well prepared and organized. They have a very efficient system that enables them to work proactively versus re-actively. Kudos to Sharon for taking the panic out of event production!

My next task was to place gorgeous purple orchids in the clean vases. Kaitlyn, OE’s manager, was overly warm and generous in educating me about the process and why flowers need to be processed before they can be used in a design. She was also very complimentary of my ability to be a quick learner! Maybe a career in floral design awaits me in my next life!

My final task was to process a huge bunch of white roses. Thanks to Kaitlyn’s education, I now know that in order to get roses to open up, you must strip them of their leaves because the leaves hog the water as it moves up the stalk. Removing the leaves allows the roses to open and in this case, would make turning these beauties into petals to be tossed at the weekend wedding, a lot easier.

Here I was a novice being tossed into a team of professionals and they couldn’t have been more wonderful and supportive of my willingness to learn. What struck me, beyond their talent and beautiful designs, was the camaraderie amongst the staff. Sharon has designed a team that clearly works hard but plays hard together too. What a joy to be amongst professionals whom truly love what they are doing and they respect the team they are working with. I loved my time at Organic Elements and hope that my future blooms with another opportunity to work behind the scenes with floral designers.

Your take away from this experience should be to think about an industry you know little about but would love to learn and ask for an opportunity to shadow. Most companies always need an extra set of hands and they are very generous with their time!

Thanks Organic Elements team – experience #11 was amazing thanks to you!

 

Day #10: Living the Good Life – 30 Day Challenge (Butterfly Garden)

Located in far east county of San Diego, on the campus of Cuyamaca College, sits a wonderful little gem known as the Water Conservation Garden, a learning laboratory atop 5-acres of natural landscape. My interest in driving the distance today was to catch the last day of tours at the Butterfly Pavilion.

I was able to enjoy the Pavilion without any other guests and was personally toured by Sonya, one of the Garden’s volunteers. She was quick to show me that the butterflies are hatching and we watched as a brand new butterfly expelled itself from its cocoon. For hours, a butterfly will stay attached to the cocoon, while trying to get blood and fluids pumping to their wings. What an awesome sight to see a brand new butterfly evolve into the next chapter of its life. The Pavilion is full of newly hatched butterflies and caterpillar’s with work still to do.

The Butterfly Pavilion is open from June to September, and offers daily tours. The Water Conservation Garden offers fascinating tours on the various themed gardens, and offers an on-site nursery so you can purchase water conscious plants.

I’ll let the photos from my tour highlight the joy of being amongst these wonderful creatures.

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